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Frequently Asked Questions About the Boulder County Wildfires

Employees who were under an oral or written mandatory evacuation order, evacuated to a safe haven, and were unable to complete work duties are eligible to receive evacuation pay. This payment is made on the employee’s regular pay day, as evacuation payments reflect the employee’s regular pay. These payments are not treated as a debt owed to the federal government. Additional information regarding various pay and leave flexibilities available to affected employees can be found here.

Travel and Subsistence Pay is available for employees who incurred transportation and lodging expenses while evacuating from the point of evacuation to the point of safe haven as determined by the approving official. Per diem is also available for these employees as well as their dependents. For additional information regarding the forms to complete and where to submit the forms to request travel and subsistence pay, please see Information for NIST Staff Members Affected by the Boulder County Wildfires site

Employees may request and use their annual leave, sick leave (as applicable), leave without pay, accrued compensatory time or credit hours, and/or time off awards. Supervisors and employees should also consider employing the full range of flexibilities under existing Alternative Work Schedules. These emergency leave flexibilities along with other information for NIST staff members affected by the Boulder County Wildfires can be found here.

Crowdsourced fundraising, such as GoFundMe, is not strictly prohibited by the gift rules, however, the nature of this type of fundraising is complex and demands that extra care be taken to ensure that federal employees do not solicit or accept prohibited gifts. If employees need additional information on prohibited donations, they should contact the NIST Ethics office at 202-482-5384.

Employees will need to partner with their Supervisor and their NIST Property Custodian to report any lost or damaged NIST property. Information on how to report lost or damaged NIST property can be found here.

This would depend. If the employee was on pre-approved leave and they were not immediately impacted by the evacuation order and did not need to evacuate to a safe haven, then they would not be eligible for evacuation pay. If employee was on pre-approved leave and was subsequently unable to use it because they were impacted by the wildfires and had to evacuate to a safe haven, they would be eligible to receive evacuation pay.

NIST has the authority to establish evacuation payments and extend them up to 180 days for eligible employees. Because of this, if the local/state evacuation order has been lifted, but employees are still unable to return home and are still evacuated to a safe haven, they will be eligible to receive evacuation payments up to 180 days. Employees’ eligibility to receive evacuation payments will cease at the end of 180 days following the initial evacuation or on the day the employee:

  • Resumes his/her duties at the regular worksite from which her or she was evacuated after the applicable order to evacuate was rescinded;
  • Retires;
  • Is reassigned out of the evacuation area;
  • Is separated or determined to have abandoned his/her position; or
  • Is declared a missing person und the Missing Persons Act. 

Payments of evacuation pay, travel expenses, and subsistence pay are charged to the OU budget. While this is charged to the OU budget, a special project task code has been created for each OU to use when coding this in webTA for evacuation pay or putting it on the forms to request reimbursement for travel expenses and/or subsistence pay for tracking purposes. Employee should partner with their administrative officer and/or timekeeper to receive the correct project task code to use as this will vary by OU.

An advance in pay is a reimbursable advance of the employee’s pay that may be recovered under terms of a repayment agreement, by salary offset, from a lump sum leave settlement, etc. It is essentially a loan to the employee that is to be repaid interest-free intended to defray the immediate expenses incidental to the emergency and evacuation. Employees may be advanced up to 30 days’ pay, and the advancement will be the employee’s gross pay minus any applicable deductions and allotments.

On Jan. 14, 2022, the Office of Personnel Management determined that an ELTP was warranted for employees adversely affected by the 2021 Boulder County, Colorado, Wildfires. Subsequently, on Jan. 19, 2022, the Department of Commerce (DOC) has authorized and established an ELTP for DOC employees adversely affected by the 2021 Boulder County, Colorado, Wildfires and other recent natural disasters. An ELTP allows Federal employees to donate their unused annual leave for transfer to employees of the DOC, or to employees in other agencies outside of the DOC, who are adversely affected by such disaster or emergency. For additional information on employee eligibility, how to be an ELTP recipient, or how to be an ELTP donor, employees should see the DOC Policy on ELTP and contact Carmene Brown (carmene.brown [at] (carmene[dot]brown[at]nist[dot]gov)) in OHRM.

Created February 2, 2022